Step into the dappled shades of history with the tale of Mr. Allen N. Hoxsie's ambitious venture. An artist, photographer, businessman, and farmer, Hoxsie was celebrated by The Providence Journal in 1907 for his thriving hay farm on the Queen's River in Exeter. However, the undercurrents of this farm carried whispers of a much darker story that emerged in the early 2000s.
Hoxsie's homestead, once an emblem of agrarian prosperity, became the heartbeat of Rhode Island's singular institution for individuals with disabilities - the Ladd School. Over its life span, the house bore silent witness to stories of struggle, hardship, and a society grappling with its understanding of disability, until it eventually fell to the wrecking ball.
Today, vestiges of this once-vibrant home linger amidst the wilderness of the vast five-hundred-acre farm, silent testaments to an intense past.
An echo of hope survives within a distinct piece of art. In 1972, Warwick artist Kay Epstein was tasked with immortalizing the Exeter School for the Feeble-Minded on canvas. Framed with wood salvaged from the staircase of the Hoxsie House, this painting is an elegy to lives past, a relic saved when the institution closed its doors in 1994. It is now part of The Ladd School Historical Society collection.
To honor those voices lost in the passages of time, we present a near-perfect replica of Epstein's original artwork. This digital recreation invites viewers to confront the Ladd School's poignant legacy and unravel the intricate layers of its history.